Allergy Management 101: How to Read Food Labels on Pre-Packaged Food
Food allergy currently affects two in 100 adults and one in 10 infants in Australia alone, meaning, the country has among the highest allergy prevalence rates worldwide. That said, when buying prepackaged food, knowing how to read food labelling is extremely crucial to allergy management.
Food Labelling Laws in Australia
According to food labelling laws, nine of the most common sulphite preservatives and allergens, in concentrations of 10 milligrammes or higher, should always be displayed on the packaging, either in the ingredients list or a separate statement close to or on the food itself. These allergens include peanuts, milk, egg, fish, crustaceans, tree nuts, soybeans, gluten, and sesame seeds. Take note however that you should also be aware of other terms commonly used for these allergens such as milk products being called lacto acidophilus, hydrolysed whey or casein.
Likewise, if a certain food has an ingredient or an ingredient component that could cause a serious allergic reaction, regardless of the amount, it should be displayed on the packaging in one of the following formats:
- In Bold: Wheat Flour
- Inside the Brackets: sugar, wheat flour, margarine (might contain milk), flavouring (might contain wheat starch)
- In a Separate Statement: Might contain milk and wheat
In addition, warning statements should be visibly displayed on labelling and separate statements should likewise be plainly visible for these ingredients:
- Unpasteurised milk and egg products
- Caffeine in cola beverages
It’s likewise vital to note that certain food labels that indicate ‘may contain’ specific allergens to say that the food product might unintentionally contain foods that most individuals are allergic to such as ‘might contain traces of nuts’. Basically, this means that regardless if nuts are not intentionally used as an ingredient in the food, the maker isn’t sure if it’s entirely nut-free so read your labels extremely carefully, explains an expert food safety supervisor.
Every single time that you buy prepackaged food, you should double check the ingredients list because the recipe might have been altered since you bought it the last time. You could also consider calling the food manufacturer directly to inquire about their manufacturing processes and ingredients if you’re uncertain about a particular food product.